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One thing that makes the Ottawa Valley unique is the staying power of its residents. There’s something about being “from the Valley”. People take pride in it.

In communities stretching throughout Renfrew County, including towns and the rural areas in between live just over 100,000 people. In Pembroke, the percentage of residents who are above 65 is 26%. For the rest of the country it’s 20%.

Some might say it’s a good place to grow old. But is that the case for everyone? If you have means, then okay. But if you’re living in a fixed income as are many elderly people in Renfrew County, the increasing cost of living is diminishing their ability to afford basic essentials such as transportation, food and housing.

This leads to a chain effect with limited access to food and healthcare preventing people from being able to continue living in their homes. As a not for profit charity, Carefor’s role is to help bridge the gap for seniors to community services and affordable living.

Access to Health Care

Carefor’s non-urgent medical transportation picks up seniors and transports them to their medical appointments. With Renfrew County having no public transit system and private alternatives being limited and costly, Carefor’s transportation program provides a more affordable alternative to allow seniors to get to the places they most need. Without access to medical appointments, elderly people might not as well have them, increasing the likelihood of hospitalizations.

Food Insecurity

Throughout the Ottawa Valley are seniors who live alone. Many for whatever reason don’t cook as much as they used to. Perhaps it’s not having anyone else to cook for; perhaps a loved one had always taken care of it; perhaps they just can’t get to the grocery store like they used to.

Carefor’s frozen meal delivery program brings prepared meals right to people’s doors so they have easier access to good, nutritious food. “These programs are becoming more and more essential,” says Alice Grenon, Carefor’s Manager of Community Support Services. “We’re not only seeing more seniors in our communities, and with the cost of living, people are struggling to afford basic things that they might have previously been able to.”

Housing Insecurity

The vast majority of people want to age in their homes, but that’s not always the best option for some. With limited supports, many seniors are isolated and age alone. It can be dangerous for many, causing them to seek out other options. But if you’re on a government pension without other sources of financial supports, where can you go?

Many retirement homes are out of range for lower income seniors leaving a gap between them and the other alternatives: hospital, long-term care and homelessness. Carefor’s two retirement homes, Carefor Civic Complex and Carefor Mackay Centre bridge that gap offering accommodation for people with limited means and options.

What people often don’t see in these two retirement homes are the integrated supports that exist for the residents. “We’re seeing more and more people coming to us with complex physical and mental health challenges,” says Sharon Maye, Director of Retirement Home Services. “Here we offer specialized services such as assisted living and mental health supports that help people dealing with more complex challenges.”

While large buildings, what you can’t see when you look at Civic and Mackay from the outside are the intimate communities and relationships between the staff and residents, and residents with one another. There is a family feel in the homes and people looking out for one another. People understand what each other has gone through and where they’re from, and they help each other feel a sense of belonging.

To learn more about our retirement homes in Pembroke or our community support services, please visit our website.

In an age where mental acuity is prized, the search for methods to stave off cognitive decline has intensified. While brain teasers and puzzles have long been heralded as the champions of cognitive health, recent research suggests that physical activity may hold the key to maintaining a sharp mind well into old age.

Engaging in regular physical activity is not just beneficial for the body; it also provides a wealth of advantages for cognitive function. Numerous studies have shown that exercise can boost cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, and decision-making. Moreover, physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.

So, what types of physical activities are particularly effective in preventing cognitive decline?

Aerobic Exercise: Activities that get your heart pumping and your blood flowing, such as walking, running, swimming, or cycling, are excellent for brain health. Aerobic exercise increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain, promoting the growth of new neurons and enhancing synaptic connections, which are crucial for learning and memory.

Strength Training: Building muscle isn’t just about looking fit; it also has profound benefits for the brain. Strength training exercises, like lifting weights or using resistance bands, can improve cognitive function by increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the growth and maintenance of neurons.

Yoga and Tai Chi: These mind-body practices combine gentle movements with focused breathing and meditation. Research suggests that practicing yoga or tai chi regularly can improve cognitive function, reduce stress, and enhance overall brain health. These activities may also help to mitigate the effects of aging on the brain by promoting relaxation and reducing inflammation.

Dance: Whether it’s ballroom, salsa, or two-stepping, dancing offers a fun and engaging way to stay physically active while challenging your brain. Learning new dance routines requires coordination, memory, and spatial awareness, all of which are vital for cognitive function. Plus, dancing is a social activity, which can further support brain health by reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Mindful Movement: Activities like qigong or mindful walking combine physical movement with mindfulness practices, fostering a deep connection between body and mind. These gentle exercises promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve cognitive function by encouraging present-moment awareness and mental clarity.

Incorporating these physical activities into your daily routine can have profound effects on your cognitive health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, along with two or more days of strength training and regular practice of mind-body activities. By staying active both physically and mentally, you can keep your mind sharp and resilient as you age.

Many of Carefor’s programs incorporate physical activity. Whether at our retirement homes in Pembroke, our adult day programs for people living with dementia in Ottawa or our seniors support centres in Eastern Counties, keeping moving is part of the program.

As seniors continue to embrace an active and vibrant lifestyle, the importance of flexibility and mobility cannot be overstated. Incorporating stretching exercises into daily routines plays a pivotal role in maintaining joint health, preventing injuries, and promoting overall well-being. In this guide, we explore essential stretching tips tailored for seniors, promoting a path to active aging.

Start Slow, Progress Gradually

One of the golden rules of stretching for seniors is to start slow and progress gradually. Before delving into stretches, it’s crucial to warm up the body. Gentle aerobic activities such as walking or cycling for 5-10 minutes increase blood flow to muscles, preparing them for stretching exercises. This helps prevent injuries and ensures a more effective stretch.

Begin with gentle, dynamic stretches that engage major muscle groups. Stretch major muscle groups including, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, shoulders, and the lower back. These areas are particularly prone to stiffness, and regular stretching can enhance the range of motion and alleviate discomfort.

As flexibility improves, seniors can introduce static stretches, holding each position for about 15-30 seconds. Be sure to pay close attention to your body and avoid pushing beyond your comfort zone. Discomfort is normal during stretching, but pain should be avoided.

If a stretch feels painful, it’s essential to ease off and consult with a healthcare professional if necessary. For those new to stretching or individuals with existing health conditions, consulting with a healthcare professional or a certified fitness trainer is advisable. They can provide personalized guidance, taking into account individual health needs and limitations.

Enjoy the Process

Stretching should be an enjoyable and rejuvenating experience. Seniors are encouraged to embrace the process, celebrate small victories, and appreciate the positive impact stretching has on their overall well-being.

To experience the full benefits of stretching try to stay on track and keep stretching regularly. Aim for at least 10-15 minutes of stretching exercises most days of the week. This regular practice contributes to improved flexibility and enhanced overall mobility.

Though consistency is key it is also important to switch things up now and again. Try activities such as balance exercises and chair exercises like chair yoga. For seniors with limited mobility or balance concerns, chair exercises offer a safe and effective alternative.

Seated stretches can target various muscle groups, providing the benefits of flexibility without putting stress on joints. Balance exercises, including stretches that involve balancing on one leg, are vital for seniors. These exercises enhance stability and reduce the risk of falls, a common concern in the senior population. As seniors embark on their journey to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle, incorporating these stretching tips into their daily routine can be a game-changer. At Carefor retirement homes in West Ottawa and Pembroke-Renfrew Country we provide a full activities calendar to our residents which features many opportunities for our residents to exercise and stretch to help them maintain their mobility and flexibility. Through these activities and others including bingo, cards, and trivia games we aim to create a welcoming environment that will help foster a sense of community.

Imagine that you cook for yourself every single day. For years, you make breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Then, one day, you find that you no longer have the physical energy to cook so often, and you’re forced to find another way to get food. Or maybe someone cooked for you, someone you cared about, and when they pass you don’t know what to do. This is a reality for a lot of seniors, who need consistent access not only to nutritious ingredients, but feasible ways to prepare them.

Seniors are particularly vulnerable to the plight of food insecurity. In a world with ever-rising food prices, seniors also have to contend with other barriers, such as an inability to stand over a stove for extended periods of time or a lack of transportation to stock up on groceries. Food insecurity isn’t just about food prices, there’s the complicated factor of accessibility, especially for vulnerable communities.

In Pembroke-Renfrew County, where many seniors experience food insecurity, Carefor’s frozen meal delivery service has been a valuable resource. For over two decades, Carefor has been a pillar of support for vulnerable communities, particularly seniors and individuals with disabilities facing isolation and limited access to fresh food.

By sourcing from local provider Griffith Farms and lovingly crafting meals before flash-freezing them, Carefor’s frozen food delivery ensures both convenience and nutritional quality. The service proves beneficial, especially in rural areas where traditional grocery shopping is often impractical due to transportation challenges.

“We’re always looking to fill a gap in the community,” says Janna Wood, coordinator of the delivery program. For her, the importance lies in giving seniors an easy option for nutritional meals, something that can be accessed with little physical or mental effort. This allows seniors and adults with disabilities to remain independent for as long as possible, helping them stay in their homes and avoid long-term care or hospital stays. Ultimately, it gives people choices.

However, the stark reality of escalating food prices underscores a harsh truth: while Carefor’s service addresses immediate hunger, its cost may create barriers for those most in need. Ultimately, while it provides a vital buffer against food insecurity, long-term solutions demand systemic changes, such as governmental subsidies and community-driven initiatives.

Essentially, Carefor’s frozen meal delivery service represents resilience in the face of adversity, offering sustenance and dignity to those grappling with food insecurity. It’s a testament to compassion and community solidarity, striving to bridge gaps and nourish spirits in uncertain times. If you’re in Pembroke-Renfrew County, this might be a helpful option for you.

To learn more about Carefor’s frozen meal program and to place an order, visit the Carefor website.

A lot of people struggle with isolation and feelings of loneliness. Seniors in particular are at risk, with 1 in 5 people over the age of 65 reporting that they lack companionship.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most people had an easier time maintaining their social life. The lockdowns and social distancing during the pandemic disrupted this, and many people had a hard time reconnecting after lockdowns were lifted. This has been especially impactful to seniors, who often lack a means of transportation and are less familiar with virtual socializing.

Social isolation can be very harmful to your health. Studies show that social isolation and feelings of loneliness can contribute to:

  • Depression
  • Poor sleep habits
  • A weakened immune system
  • Worsened cardiovascular health

Forging connections with people is essential to your health. Forming community is more than just a warm fuzzy feeling; human beings need it. If you’re a senior looking to build new relationships and don’t know where to start, here are some resources that might be helpful for you.

Public Libraries

Libraries are a great place to meet people and make friends. They’re not just for checking out books; most libraries host social events and clubs as well. In Ottawa libraries you can find writing groups, knitting groups and book clubs, among other things. Look at your local library’s website and there will be a section for clubs and events.

Senior Community Centers

Community centers often host events to get people more involved in the community. Senior centers are also designed to be fully accessible. The activities offered usually include card games, exercise programs and congregate meals. Check out your local community center online or by phone to see what they have to offer.

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to reduce isolation and meet new people. You don’t need to come away from the experience with a best friend; it’s just nice sometimes to spend a day among people sharing a desire to make the world a better place. A great place to look for opportunities is Volunteer Ottawa, the City of Pembroke and on the Carefor website, where we’re always looking for people to make our clients’ days a bit brighter.

Connect with family and old friends

One of the great things about the internet is it allows you to connect with people from your past. Whether it be through social media sites like Facebook or sites that help you find friends from your school days, there are many ways to find old friends.

Connect online

For those who might be dealing with mobility restrictions or who live far away from family and friends, the internet is a great way to connect with and find new social networks around things that interest you. Connecting online might be intimidating but luckily there are resources available to support you.

Carefor

Carefor offers several ways for seniors to stay connected. Depending on your location, we have services and programs to choose from that meet different needs. Adult Day Programs for people living with dementia (Ottawa and Eastern Counties), the Companion Program (Pembroke-Renfrew County) and Seniors Group Exercise (Eastern Counties) are all great opportunities to meet new people.

If you cannot access the mentioned services due to a disability, consider checking out OC Transpo’s Para Transpo service or Carefor’s transportation services. Carefor also offers one-on-one social visits that can take place in your own home or over the phone.

Additionally, if you require some extra help around the house with cleaning or personal care, Carefor offers Personal Support and Homemaking Services. These can be more than just some help and can offer social connection.

Finally, Carefor also operates retirement homes in Pembroke and a retirement home for women living with dementia in Richmond in west Ottawa, which allow people who are unable to or choose not to live at home anymore the ability to connect with new friends.

To see which Carefor services are in your area or find more resources, visit our website.

With spring here, it’s a great time to start thinking about developing new habits and routines. Volunteering can be a great way to dive into something new while having a real impact on your community. It’s also an opportunity to make new friends, make good use of your time and challenge yourself. Those who volunteer see many benefits, such as:

Physical Health

Volunteering can be a great way for people over the age of 50 to stay healthy. Research shows that seniors who volunteer see lower rates of physical decline compared to seniors who didn’t volunteer. Getting up and out of the house on a regular basis is good for your body, and volunteering can help you stay active.

Cognitive Health

The same research showed that the benefit wasn’t just to physical health, as cognitive health was also maintained in seniors who volunteered. Volunteering takes some mental effort, especially in planning and organizing. Staying mentally active like this can help maintain mental acuity for longer.

Emotional Health

It feels good to give back. As Ghandi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  Often when people retire, they lose a sense of purpose and drive both of which can be maintained through volunteering. What’s all the better is you have the power to choose exactly how you want to help others. It’s also a great way to meet new people and find the joy of connection.

Community Impact

One of the main reasons people choose to volunteer is a desire to give back and help others in their community, and in the process making their community better. Without volunteers, so much of what not for profits do wouldn’t be possible. Whether serving meals or cleaning a park, the impact of your actions will be felt by many.

As an organization that serves thousands of elderly people and those living with disabilities across Eastern Ontario, Carefor is always looking for volunteers to help increase the reach and quality of our programs. We are so blessed with the volunteers that we have but admittedly have struggled to find many after the pandemic.

If you’re curious about how you can volunteer in a way to help make someone’s day brighter whether it be friendly visiting, meal delivery, at our hospice or day programs, go to our website to learn more.

As with every year, March 8th is International Women’s Day. The theme this year is Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress and couldn’t be more appropriate to what we are endeavouring to accomplish at Carefor right now.

This week has been Go Live Week for our new Client Management System, AlayaCare, for our home, clinical and Inner City Health teams. This new system will be an overhaul of our data management, billing, reporting and more giving our staff a new tool to use for their care each and every day.

The reason this year’s theme is so appropriate right now is that AlayaCare truly is an investment. Our home, clinical and Inner City Health teams are using AlayaCare now, with our community support services and retirement teams across Carefor to follow shortly. This will result in improved care for the over 20,000 clients and their loved ones that Carefor supports each year. As with all investments it comes with risk and effort, but we are confident from what we have seen that all the effort that our team is putting in will be worth it.

While AlayaCare will offer better, more consistent care to our clients and their loved ones, it will also mean a better working experience for our over 1,300 staff across Eastern Ontario, 80% of whom are women.

Carefor was established 127 years ago as the founding chapter of the Victorian Order of Nurses by Lady Aberdeen, the wife of the then Governor General. Over that time the vast majority of our staff have been women, many of whom in our early days were pioneers, leaving the conventional confines of their homes to pursue a life and career of service to others.

Today, Carefor employs people from all walks of life and for many, Carefor is their first job in Canada. Our mission is not only to welcome them, but also to empower them to become the best they can be whether here at Carefor or wherever their career might take them. One of the ways we are working to do this is by giving them the best tools. AlayaCare is one of these tools.

Ontario’s healthcare system is changing rapidly, and we are confident that we are well-positioned to accelerate progress through actions large and small so that our clients, caregivers, staff and partners, can be part of the best care possible.

We are grateful to the over 1,000 women who have chosen to join Carefor and that work every day to accelerate progress to make our communities better and healthier.

Amy Boudreau                                                                             
Vice-President, Strategy, Performance and Partnerships                               

Marcelle Thibeault
Vice-President, Client Care

To do a job well you need the right tools. For years, Carefor has been providing client care in homes and the community using two client management systems: Goldcare and CIMS. Starting on March 4th, our Homecare staff will be the first at Carefor to adopt a new system: Alayacare, which will eventually be used by all staff across Carefor. The project is a massive undertaking which will involve all staff and will eventually impact the care of all our clients, for the better.

Alayacare is the industry leading Home Care and Community Support Services client management system which offers more features that integrate more seamlessly. The result is a better care experience for clients and caregivers and a better user experience for staff.

For our staff, Alayacare means less time reporting and more time caring. Its interface is more user-friendly and better captures client care provided within the electronic health record. As it’s more robust, staff can do more with it, meaning they can stay in the system to do everything they require rather than moving between different record keeping tools, which is more time-consuming. It also allows them to better communicate between staff about client care needs, which means when a new staff provides client care, they have all the information they need to give the best care.

And better care is better for our clients. Additionally, Alayacare allows us to connect clients with staff more easily which results in clients being more likely to have the same Carefor staff resulting in more consistent care. Eventually, as the system gets rolled out across Carefor, clients who use multiple Carefor services, such as Personal Support Services and Transportation, will see improvements in their care as their personal health information is consistent across the programs which support them.

As mentioned, our Go-Live date will be March 4th for all of our Home and Clinical Care services, including Nursing, Personal Support Services, and Rehabilitation Services, with other programs such as Community Support Services and Residential Services adopting Alayacare later in 2024. As this is a new system for our staff, training is taking place right now so that they’ll be ready to go on the 4th.

As with all change, there’s a learning curve and we hope that our clients and their caregivers will appreciate the time and effort that is required for all involved to learn and use this new system. With a little patience, we’re sure that they’ll see improvements in their care very soon.

The adoption of Alayacare is a key component of our Project OneCare which is realigning Carefor across service lines rather than regionally, as was our previous model. Under this model, Home and Clinical Care, Community Services and our Residential programs will work together, respectively, to learn from one another to create better services while making for a more efficient organization.

Carefor is committed to improving and modernizing to provide the best care possible, and Alayacare is a major step forward for both. We’re very excited to bring it to our clients, caregivers and community! If you would like to know more about how Alayacare will affect your care, please contact us at info@carefor.ca

As seniors in Ontario embark on their retirement journey, understanding the intricacies of the tax system becomes paramount for financial well-being. Here are some essential tax tips tailored to seniors living in the province:

Ontario Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant:

Ontario seniors who own a home may be eligible for the Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant. This grant provides financial assistance to help offset property taxes, offering relief for those facing the challenges of fixed incomes.

Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit:

Seniors in Ontario investing in home modifications for health and safety reasons may qualify for the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit. This credit covers a portion of eligible expenses for renovations, making homes more accessible for aging residents.

Ontario Trillium Benefit:

The Ontario Trillium Benefit combines three tax credits into one payment, providing financial assistance to eligible seniors. This benefit includes the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, the Northern Ontario Energy Credit, and the Ontario Sales Tax Credit.

Pension Income Tax Credit:

Seniors receiving eligible pension income in Ontario can benefit from the Pension Income Tax Credit. This credit allows for a reduction in taxable income, providing relief for retirees relying on pension funds.

Ontario Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit:

For seniors who frequently use public transit, the Ontario Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit offers a non-refundable tax credit for eligible transit expenses. This can be particularly beneficial for those who rely on public transportation to maintain their independence.

Ontario Seniors’ Education Property Tax Grant:

Seniors in Ontario may also qualify for the Seniors’ Education Property Tax Grant. This grant provides financial assistance to eligible seniors who own a home and are responsible for property taxes, helping them manage their housing costs more effectively.

Disability Tax Credit:

Ontario seniors with disabilities may be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, providing financial support to those facing additional costs associated with their health condition.

Estate Planning:

Considering the tax implications of estate planning is essential for seniors. A well-thought-out estate plan can help minimize taxes on assets and ensure a smooth transfer of wealth to beneficiaries. Additionally, people can save some of the tax burden on their estate by including a gift in their Will to a charity.

Ontario seniors can enhance their financial well-being by leveraging the various tax credits and benefits available to them. However, it’s crucial to stay informed about changes in tax laws and consult with a tax professional to tailor these strategies to individual circumstances. By taking advantage of these tax tips, seniors can navigate the Ontario tax landscape with confidence, ensuring a more secure and enjoyable retirement.

Age is no barrier to romance, and seniors can infuse their lives with passion and connection just as much as any other age group. Here are some heartwarming ways for seniors to keep the flame of romance alive:

Explore Shared Hobbies:

Engage in activities that both partners enjoy. Whether it’s dancing, painting, gardening, or learning something new together, shared hobbies can strengthen the bond and bring joy to the relationship.

Romantic Dates:

Plan special dates that celebrate the love you share. It could be a cozy dinner at a favorite restaurant, a picnic in the park, or a scenic drive. The key is to create moments that foster connection and intimacy.

Reignite the Spark with Memories:

Reflect on cherished memories together by revisiting the place where you first met or looking through old photo albums. Nostalgia can evoke strong emotions and remind you of the journey you’ve shared.

Spontaneity and Surprise:

Surprise your partner with unexpected gestures, whether it’s a handwritten love note, a spontaneous day trip, or a surprise dinner. Small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness can go a long way in keeping the romance alive.

Communication is Key:

Open and honest communication is crucial. Take the time to express your feelings, desires, and dreams. Listening to each other fosters a deeper connection and ensures that both partners feel heard and understood.

Physical Touch:

Physical intimacy remains an important aspect of a romantic relationship. Holding hands, hugging, and kissing are simple yet powerful ways to express love and maintain a strong emotional connection.

Plan a Second Honeymoon:

Consider taking a trip together to rekindle the romance. It doesn’t have to be extravagant; even a weekend getaway can provide an opportunity to relax, unwind, and enjoy each other’s company.

Attend Relationship Workshops or Counseling:

Participating in relationship workshops or counseling can offer valuable insights into maintaining a healthy and fulfilling connection. Learning new communication techniques and relationship skills can enhance your bond.

Stay Active Together:

Engaging in physical activities together, such as walking, dancing, or exercising, not only contributes to your well-being but also fosters a sense of togetherness.

Embrace Technology:

Use technology to stay connected, especially if physical distance separates you from your loved one. Video calls, emails, and social media can bridge the gap and keep the lines of communication open.

And while there is no guarantee of romance, Carefor’s two retirement homes in Pembroke are great places to build your social connections. There’s always something going on at Carefor Civic Complex and Mackay Centre that bring people together, from bingo to trivia to arts and crafts, there are dozens of ways to meet and connect with friends.

Keeping the romance alive for seniors involves a combination of shared experiences, open communication, and genuine expressions of love. By embracing these tips, seniors can continue to nurture their relationships, creating a fulfilling and enduring connection that stands the test of time.